USS Virginia’s Crew Gets Certificate of Thanks

USS Virginia's Crew Gets Certificate of Thanks

The crew of USS Virginia (SSN 774) received a “Certificate of Thanks” from the Pease Greeters in Kittery, April 24.

Pease Greeters is an organization based in Portsmouth that “serves America’s heroes one flight at a time.” According to their website, their mission is to “welcome troops passing through Pease International Airport on their way to, or from, Afghanistan or Iraq, or any other areas of conflict in any part of the world.”

Electronics Technician 2nd Class Crawford Paulk, stationed aboard Virginia served as the volunteer coordinator while the submarine underwent their maintenance availability.

“The Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Machinist Mate Chad Schultz told me about the Pease Greeters because he knows I am always looking to get involved with volunteer opportunities in the community,” said Paulk. “The first flight I went to, I was truly captivated by the Greeters’ support of the troops. I spread the word to all the Sailors aboard Virginia and the other submarines here in Portsmouth.”

Virginia arrived at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in September 2010 for the first of its class major maintenance availability. While at the shipyard, Virginia underwent an extended dry-docking selective restricted availability consisting of various maintenance work and several system upgrades.

Paulk added that the volunteers from Virginia were able to greet approximately 15 returning flights.

“It was a great opportunity to show our support for the troops coming from or going into combat, I figured while we are at the shipyard and not forward deployed it was the least we could do,” said Paulk.

Mal Kenney, Pease Greeter and member of VFW Post 5744 praised the Virginia Sailors for their volunteerism.

“The Sailors off Virginia have been fantastic, showing up at all hours to greet our troops and participate in our ceremonies as the color guard,” said Kenney. “Every Sailor does their job well, but these gentlemen stand out, they stand out in a crowd for their service and their commitment to our community.”

Kenney added that the Pease Greeters have a saying, “come as strangers – leave as friends,” and his organization now counts them as part of the Pease Greeters family.

George Davidson, Pease Greeters co-chair and member of VFW Post 5744 presented Cmdr. Tim Salter, Virginia’s commanding officer with a Pease Greeters sweatshirt bearing the signatures of all the Pease Greeters as a symbol of the Greeters willingness “to give our troops the shirt off our back.”

“We have had a fantastic time here as part of the Seacoast community. We are looking forward to returning to our homeport in Groton. However, while there, we are one of many submarines. This community has made us feel very special,” said Salter. “Thank you for welcoming us and allowing us to be part of your community. We truly appreciate the opportunities like this that keep us close, engaged and involved with the people we serve.”

Salter also recognized Paulk for leading the men of Virginia in the volunteer events while the submarine underwent its maintenance overhaul.

“Thank you to Petty Officer Paulk for taking ownership and responsibility of this effort to be involved with the Pease Greeters, you are to be commended,” said Salter.

Virginia is preceded by nine vessels that share the same namesake, the Commonwealth of Virginia. These nine vessels include four that predate the 1900s; the oldest was a frigate captured by the British in 1778 during the Revolutionary War. Of the five vessels built during the 1900s, the most recently decommissioned “USS Virginia” was a Virginia-class cruiser commissioned in 1976.

The completion of submarine availabilities is critical in the maintenance of today’s fleet and is essential to maintaining warfighter readiness.

Naval Today Staff , May 01, 2012; Image: navy